Ingrid’s house was the starting point for the hunt last night. Both Pike and Astrid were there when I arrived. Astrid was dropped off by her husband, who also brought their daughter with him. I said hello to Astrid’s daughter and asked if she remembered telling me “see ya, shorty” the last time I saw her. Instead of responding she smiled at me with only the right half of her mouth, making her look a little saucy.
Astrid rode in Ingrid’s pickup and I rode in Pike’s car, and we followed the sisters to an empty farmhouse. We crossed the porch and entered the two-story home, Ingrid and Astrid each carrying a duffel bag and Pike carrying a video camera and a wooden pole with a curved blade on the end, which he called a naginata. He also had a sword at his waist.
Inside there were four folding chairs, a card table, and a camp lantern. Astrid explained that she and Ingrid had deposited them there when they checked out the house earlier in the day. From her duffel bank she removed four flashlights, a pair of binoculars, night vision goggles, and a sound amplifier. Before she could tell us what the plan for the night was, however, we heard a sound from the front of the house: a metallic ca-clang clang.
We each took a flashlight and went onto the porch. At the far end of the long driveway our lights illuminated something that wasn’t there before. It was a cow, looking at us and swishing its tail. Around its neck was a cowbell.
I was about to ask whether cows were normally nocturnal when the cow plodded down the driveway toward the house, its bell making the ca-clang clang sound. As it approached we saw that something was wrong with it: its skin appeared diseased. When it got closer we saw that it wasn’t disease: it was decay.
“Huh,” said Ingrid. “Let’s get inside.” She and Astrid entered the farmhouse but Pike and I stayed on the porch. Pike was filming the creature. “Wow,” he said, “This is…horrifying and hilarious.”
“You guys!” snapped Ingrid.
“What?” I said. “We’re in a hurry to get away from zombie cow?”
“Yeah,” said Pike. “It’s not like it’s one of those 28 Days Late-”
The cow was charging at us.
We ran back into the farmhouse and closed the door. “OK, tough guys,” said Ingrid. “Going to listen to Ingrid now?” We were. “Now,” said Ingrid, “I think we’ve got the right tools for…”
CRASH! The cow had smashed its head through one of the windows at the front of the house. It jerked its head up and bellowed a grotesque moo. Pike drew the sword from his waist and Ingrid reached into her duffel bag and took out the club hammer she used in the duel with the frog statue in Verona. She strode over to the undead bovine.
“Time to get tenderized, Bossy!” Ingrid cried, and smashed the creature’s skull. Pike struck at it with his sword. Bossy was still and silent.
“Well,” I said, “This hunt took less time than I thought it would.”
The sound was coming from the same direction we had first heard it. Astrid opened the front door and we looked outside. Her flashlight illuminated a single cow wearing a cowbell, standing at the far end of the driveway. The other five cows standing in a line next to it were not wearing bells. All six were looking at us and swishing their tails.
“Huh,” said Ingrid.